FARMERS in and around the Blaenavon World Heritage Site have voiced concerns over rapidly escalating damage to common land caused by illegal off-road bikers.

The damage to Coity, Mynydd James and Mulfran is mirrored on the other side of the valley, and is caused by the illegal use of four-by-four vehicles and scrambler bikes which erode the ground and disturb grazing livestock.

They also destroy vulnerable habitats including that of the ground nesting Lapwing which are a protected species and listed as a species of principal importance for Wales.

Torfaen Council have also had reports that dead livestock and birds have been found following off-road activity.

Taking action on behalf of farmers in the area is Anita Banks, who brother, Anthony Price, farms in the area.

She wrote a letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, last week.

She wrote that the use of illegal off road vehicles “has now become so personally intimidating and threatening that my brother fears that he is fast losing the control as custodian of the common land”.

She said this fear is echoed in Cwmtillery, Nantyglo, Varteg, Brynithel and Blaenavon.

One incident that she highlights in the letter is that while sheep were being gathered in order to earmark this year’s lambs, seven off road bikes drove through the middle of the flock.

She added: “The natural beauty, ecology, flora and fauna and archaeological history is being destroyed by mindless illegal off road activities - scarring the landscape for miles and miles.

“The scarring to the land of the tracks and rut will take years to recover.”

Following the letter, a meeting is currently being arranged with farmers and police.

A spokeswoman for Gwent Police said it is illegal to ride an off-road bike on common land, the only place you can ride legally is on private land with the land owners permission.

She added: “We are currently carrying out illegal off road operations every weekend across the Pontypool area to deter and apprehend offenders. “

Anyone who has been affected by illegal off-road biking can contact their local neighbourhood officer or call police on 101.